To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government when the affordable purchase scheme will fully commence; the number of affordable purchase scheme units to be provided in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ensuring that we have a supply of housing that is affordable, particularly for households on low to moderate incomes, is a major priority for this Government. Recognising that people want a choice of affordable purchase and rental, depending on their stage of life and circumstances, both are being progressed through a range of initiatives.
In order to underpin progress in this area, I have now commenced the relevant provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, the effect of which is to place the new scheme for affordable purchase on a statutory footing. From engagements with the local authorities in Dublin, the wider Greater Dublin Area, as well as Cork and Galway cities, their initial estimates suggest that they have lands with the potential to deliver some 4,000 new affordable homes. My Department is continuing to work with the key local authorities and the Housing Agency to identify sites which would see the level of ambition increase to at least 10,000 new affordable homes, and that analysis is progressing well. Significant progress has been made on individual projects, such as the O'Devaney Gardens and Oscar Traynor Road sites in the Dublin City Council area.
With regard to cost rental, I am determined for it to become a major part of our rental landscape in the future. It is clear that there is a gap between social housing and the rental market that needs to be filled, making a sustainable impact on housing affordability, national competitiveness, and the attractiveness of our main urban centres as places to live and work.
The Housing Agency, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and a number of Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) have been working to get our first cost rental pilot, at Enniskerry Road, ready for tenders to issue shortly. In parallel, Dublin City Council, my Department and the National Development Finance Agency are undertaking detailed modelling and financial appraisal on a major site, at St. Michael’s Estate in Inchicore, to assess its suitability for a significant cost rental development. The work of that multi-disciplinary team is progressing well and should be concluded shortly.
In order to support local authorities to get their sites ready for affordable housing, I have decided to provide additional funding for enabling infrastructure via the Serviced Sites Fund. Given that housing-related infrastructure will now be able to avail of funding under the €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, I am re-directing the €50m funding for Phase 2 of the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund to the Serviced Sites Fund, increasing the scale of the Fund from the previously announced €25m to €75m. When local authority co-funding is included, an overall minimum investment of €100 million will be provided to those sites that require infrastructural investment in order for them to be brought into use for affordable housing. In order to drive early activity, I will be inviting applications for funding under the Serviced Sites Fund by the end of next week.
In relation to Adamstown, South Dublin County Council is the specified Development Agency for the Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) in that area and is committed to working with the landowners to ensure the successful implementation of the SDZ Planning Scheme. This will contribute to the construction of a mix of tenure types, the creation of an attractive place for people to live at more affordable prices and rents, and the creation of a sustainable, integrated community. Arising from agreements made under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund, Adamstown will deliver 2,000 homes by 2021, including houses at more affordable price points.
While delivery from the State's land bank is a critical instrument in increasing the supply of affordable housing, the Government has also taken measures to incentivise development on privately owned sites and to discourage land hoarding. The planning process has been de-risked and streamlined through the new Strategic Housing Development process and the number of new homes granted planning permissions in Q1 2018 are up by 80% compared to Q1 2017.
In addition, the vacant site levy is playing an important role in countering land hoarding and ensuring that key sites are developed without delay. This will be strengthened shortly through new legislation to increase the maximum annual levy from 3% to 7% from 2019 and I will be continuing to keep the operation of the levy under review.
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